Thinley Namgay

At the Bhutan Olympic Committee’s (BOC) athletic ground in Thimphu, the two para athletes –Gyeltshen and Chimi Dema – are practising shot put under the guidance of coach Penjore Gyeltshen.

Gyeltshen and Chimi Dema will participate in the upcoming 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Paralympic Games is a platform for people with disabilities to compete in various sporting events.

The 16th edition of the games will take place between August 24 and September 5.

The International Paralympic Committee confirmed the wild card entry for three athletes from Bhutan for short put and archery.

Para archer Pema Rigsel will compete in the recurve archery category.

Athletes must achieve a minimum qualifying score (MQS) to get entry into the Paralympic.

For shotput, the MQS requirement for men is 6m. Gyeltshen secured 6.29m during the 2019 World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Since then, Gyeltshen has come a long way.

Gyeltshen had a hard school life and had to quit studies after Class IX in 2011.

But Gyeltshen has always been very optimistic. His health problems did not stop him from trying out difficult things.  In 2013, he came to Thimphu and got a role in movies.

In 2017, Gyeltshen joined the Bhutan Paralympic Committee (BPC).

“I had heard about the Paralympic games on the BBS. My friends encouraged me to join,” Gyeltshen said, adding that he could maintain his health after joining as a para-athlete. “Exercise plays a vital role for better health.”

Gyeltshen said that Tokyo Paralympic was a big platform for all the athletes like him. “I will do my best and represent the country well during the event. I will ensure that my performances are better than in 2019.”

Chimi Dema is also 28. She joined BPC in 2018 with the support of her friends and relatives.

She secured MQS in 2019 World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai. She maintained 4.51m exceeding the requirement of 4m.

After completing Class XII, Chimi worked in a private company. She never thought she would become a member of BPC.

Chimi said BPC provided her with lots of opportunities which enabled her to look at life positively.

She is confident about the Tokyo Paralympic. “Representing Bhutan is a big deal for me, and I must do my best during the competition. We are undergoing intense training.”

Soon after the completing Tokyo Paralympic, Chimi wants to continue her education at the Royal Thimphu College (RTC). She got an opportunity to study through a BOC-RTC scholarship.

The para-archer- Pema Rigsel, 34, is busy paractising for the competition at the Langjophakha archery range. He practices five days a week.

In May this year, Pema grabbed the MQS of 601 points during the day-long national MQS competition organised by Bhutan Archery Federation. He exceeded the requirement of 575 points.

He joined BPC in 2017.

In 2012, Pema suffered from knee pain facing difficulty walking upward. It was due to a tumour in the spinal cord.

“Tumor got removed, and the doctor told me that my health would improve,” said Pema.

During the Paralympic games, Pema Rigsel will compete in the 70m archery range.

Archers shoot six arrows for one round.  For one set, archers have to shoot for six rounds, and each arrow carries 10 points which accounts for 360 points in a set. For a game, archers have to complete two sets which are out of 720 points. Each round is given four minutes.

Pema said that his performance on the local ground was encouraging so far. “It was all due to the support from the BPC. I will maintain the same trend in the upcoming Paralympic Games. I am excited because not many get the opportunity.”

The three athletes and officials will go to Japan on the second week of August for pre-practice sessions and acclimatisation.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk